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Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Imagine a perfectly crisp on the outside chewy on the inside chocolate cookie laced with espresso and topped with a sprinkle of whiskey barrel smoked sugar. Yes, whiskey barrel smoked sugar. You read that right. The sugar has a deep smokey taste that elicits visions of bacon to that special pork sensory space lodged between the ears.

The cookie itself boasts a deep chocolate flavor that is enhanced by a full tablespoon of espresso powder. It is a robust cookie; it has to be to hold all that flavor! The whiskey barrel smoked sugar is sprinkled on the cookies the moment the pan is lifted out of the oven. The smoke flavor is subtle but distinct and oh so very unique. It makes the happy cookie chewer wonder if bacon has been added.

I purchase my Whiskey Barrel Smoked Sugar from Savory Spice Shop. I am fortunate enough to live close by but would order it online if I lived far away. It is worth it.

In the absence of whiskey barrel smoked sugar I sprinkle the hot cookies with either a large granule cane sugar or crushed peppermint candies. Both are delicious.

Chocolate Espresso Cookies with a Sprinkle of Whiskey Barrel Smoked Sugar

1½ cups flour

¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder

1 tablespoon espresso powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon baking powder

14 tablespoons unsalted butter

1¾ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

1 large egg plus 1 large yolk

½ cup sugar (set aside)

Whiskey Barrel Smoked Sugar, large granule cane sugar, or crushed peppermints for sprinkling on baked cookies

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl.

Add brown sugar, salt, and vanilla to the butter and whisk until it is fully incorporated. Let rest until cooled, 5-8 minutes. Add egg and yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth with no lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.

Using a rubber spatula stir in flour mixture until just combined. Give dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Roll dough into walnut sized balls and return to the refrigerator.

The cookies can be baked in one hour but it is better to let them mellow overnight in the refrigerator.

To bake cookies adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

Roll cookies in ½ cup sugar. Place on baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Be careful to avoid over-baking. The cookies are dark so it requires a careful look to determine done-ness.

Remove cookies from the oven and set pan on a wire cooling rack. Sprinkle tops with flavored sugar. Naturally my favorite is a whiskey barrel smoked sugar but crushed peppermints are yummy, too.

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